Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ceisteanna (81)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

81. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the moneys that have been made available to and drawn down by Galway City and County Councils to expedite the turnaround of vacant local authority houses and apartments; if Government policy in respect of vacant local authority houses and apartments has been communicated to local authorities; the reporting requirements expected of the local authorities for these empty premises; the latest reports received by his Department in relation to the number of vacant local authority houses and apartments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4425/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Voids Programme, introduced in 2014 by my Department, provides additional support to local authorities in preparing vacant units for re-letting. The purpose of the Voids Programme is to ensure that vacant units are actively targeted, with a view to minimising the turnaround and re-let time of these units and return them to use in an energy efficient condition. Between 2014 and 2017, funding of some €3.7m has been provided to Galway City Council and Galway County Council, which brought 300 vacant houses back into productive use.

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Units Returned 2014 - 2017

Funding 2014 - 2017

Galway City

91

€1,166,875

Galway County

209

€2,537,321

Without substantial refurbishment under construction contracts, these social homes would have been left vacant and not part of the active social housing stock.

Departmental circulars have issued to local authorities advising that returning vacant housing stock to use, in as short a time as possible, continues to be a priority. Effective management of voids is a key aspect of achieving best practice and value for money in housing management. It is a matter for each local authority to manage their housing stock and to put forward suitable properties for inclusion in the programme.

My Department does not keep data on the length of time a local authority dwelling is vacant. Statistics in relation to social housing are compiled by the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) in its annual reports on Performance Indicators in Local Authorities. These statistics are set out by local authority and include the percentage of such dwellings that were vacant at the end of the year, with the most recent report relating to 2016. This report is available at the following link: http://noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2016-PI-Report.pdf.

It should be noted that there is no direct relationship between the figures provided in the NOAC report and my Department's figures. The Department's data refers to the number of social homes funded under the voids programme and not the number of units vacant on the last day of the year in each local authority, which is the basis of the figures provided in the NOAC reports.